If you have a disability, finding and keeping work is usually no different for you than for someone without disabilities. However, there may be additional things to consider.
Decide about disclosure
Disclosure, or telling employers about your disability, is an important item to consider when you’re preparing for a job interview. When, or if, you disclose is a complex, personal issue and may depend on whether or not your disability is visible. For more information about disclosure, check out Disclosure: What to Say About Your Disability—and When
Build your self-confidence
If you’ve been unemployed or out of the workforce for any length of time, you may feel challenged by the thought of going to an interview. Take steps before the interview to boost and maintain your self-confidence:
- Review your skills and abilities and the description of the job you’re interviewing for. Knowing you’re qualified for the job—that you can do the job—will boost your confidence.
- Focus on positive experiences you and others have had finding work.
- Recall positive comments you’ve had from references, mentors, former co-workers and instructors.
Develop strategies to use in the interview
The employer’s goal in the interview is to determine if you’re the best candidate for the job. Use these strategies to show the employer that you are that person:
- Focus on your skills, abilities and strengths.
Be specific about your skills, e.g. if you have strong project management skills, describe how you brought a project in on time and on budget. Describe how hiring you will make things better for the employer. If you feel comfortable doing so, point out that as person with a disability you have met many challenges and developed many useful skills and attitudes, e.g. problem-solving skills.
- Change negatives to positives.
Reframe potential negatives as positives by focusing on what you can do. For example, explain gaps in your employment history in a positive way: "I took some time after my accident to reassess and develop the skills and abilities that would allow me to continue to be successful in the workplace." For suggestions about how to reframe potential negatives, read Moving From Self-Defeating to Powerful Thoughts.
- Know the business case for hiring persons with disabilities.
Hiring persons with disabilities makes good business sense for many reasons, from increasing an employer’s talent pool to projecting a positive public image. Knowing the business case will help you reframe concerns an employer may raise in the interview. To learn more about the business case for hiring persons with disabilities, check out Finding Work Opportunities as a Person With a Disability.
- Be proactive about accommodations.
If you have a visible disability or if you’re disclosing your disability in the interview, take the lead in talking about accommodations. Your goal is to assure the employer that you are able to do the job. If you’re providing your own accommodations, tell the employer. If not, prepare to discuss any conditions, tools or technology you may require and give specific examples to help the employer understand. Research the costs and funding available. Read Accommodations: Working With Your Disability.
- Provide examples.
Show the interviewer that you’re the best person for the job by using examples and clear descriptions of your qualifications and experience. Describe how you’ve performed similar tasks successfully in the past. Paint a picture for the employer, who may never have thought about the work from your point of view.
Anticipate questions and practise your answers
Know what questions employers can and cannot ask about your disability in an interview. Read What Can Employers Ask?
Prepare to handle typical work-related questions as well as those that relate to your disability, whether they’re asked directly or implied. Develop clear, concise answers to questions like the following:
- How will you perform the tasks involved in this job?
- Will you require accommodations to perform these tasks?
- How do you account for the gaps in your employment history?
Practise your answers to questions about the work and your disability. Ask friends and family to help you role-play the interview.
Emphasize your ability to do the job the employer needs done
With preparation and practice, you’ll be able to anticipate and answer all the questions that come up in the interview. Employers are receptive to people with the skills they require. If you’re qualified for the position and you focus on your abilities, the employer likely will, too.